Philippines pressed over terrorists

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In a formal approach, senior diplomats from the three nations met Philippines President Gloria Arroyo on March 22 to express their concerns about her Government’s counter-terrorism effort.

The late-night meeting came just days before Philippines authorities arrested a number of suspected terrorists, including a leading member of the Abu Sayyaf group, Alhamser Manatad Limbong, and the discovery of 80kg of high explosives. US intelligence supplied to Manila is believed to have triggered the March 30 arrests.

Government sources said the breakthrough came after months of inaction by Philippines authorities.

In recent weeks intelligence agencies have recorded a high level of “chatter” from phone intercepts that point to the possibility of fresh attacks.

A key concern is that terrorist organisations, notably Jemaah Islamiah, continue to train recruits in the southern Philippines.